The first time I went out to shovel snow last week, I was excited. Last winter brought only two snowstorms and neither produced enough snow to really need to shovel or plow, so our snow shovel was hanging in the garage, neglected for a long year. I apologized to the shovel for ignoring him for so long and asked him to help me out with my job for the day.
The shovel was silent, but his body language showed that he readily agreed to be my partner.
I was ready to tackle the huge drift the wind deposited across my driveway. By huge, I mean two feet of snow in a drift about 30 feet long which completely divided my driveway. There was no way I’d be able to get the van out of the garage if the drift was to stay.
I took a running start at the drift, carved into it like I was frosting a cake, whittled it down, pushed the snow far up into the yard. Back and forth I trudged until the drift was moved onto the grass and off the driveway. I practically skipped into the garage to hang up the shovel, then returned triumphantly to the house to strip off layers of cold and awaken my toes.
Sure, it would have been easier to use the tractor to plow the driveway, but I didn’t know how to use it and didn’t want to ruin the tractor trying. With Scott in New Orleans, the challenge was mine and I wanted to take it on, to conquer it with my own resourcefulness and determination.
I went to bed satisfied in myself, pleased that I had gotten a huge task done with only the help of my willing and dependable shovel.
But the winds kept up all night.
I awakened to find the drift had returned. It wasn’t as large, but it was there.
I rallied and charged once more into the breach. The shovel and I were old friends by now, and we worked together to move the drift again in time to get the kids to school and me to work, though we were aided by a two-hour delay for the school.
I won’t lie: each step was harder the second time around. I had to push the snow over the bank I had created the day before and my back and shoulders were screaming with the effort. When I finished this time, I hung an exhausted shovel in the garage and clumped inside to get the kids ready for school.
The winds howled all day.
When I came home from work, the drift had started to reform. It wasn’t yet high enough to cause issues driving, so I let it go in hopes that it wouldn’t return to full strength before I did. If I ignored it long enough, I might just will it out of existence.
That night, the temperatures dropped as the wind screamed past the windows. I dressed the twins in two layers of pajamas for the night and the rest of us bundled under blankets to ward off the shivers.
When I awoke, the drift was back and was as tall as the original.
I sighed and reluctantly bundled one more time to get out there and move the snow.
But this time, the shovel went on strike. The cold temperatures had frozen the snow; there was a crust over everything and the dull and sturdy shovel couldn’t break through, couldn’t attack the snow. I glared at the sullen shovel and hung him back up in the garage, silently cursing his impotence.
What could I use to move the snow? Leaving it wasn’t an option. I tried another snow shovel, but it, too, was repelled. I tried a garden shovel, but it moved such a small amount of snow for the effort that I couldn’t use it an expect to get the drift cleared in time to get the kids to school.
So I grabbed our pitchfork and stabbed it into the snow, pulled up plates of frozen snow like scabs and flung them over my shoulder. For an hour and a half I plugged away at the drift; I panicked when the school bus flew by — it was a warning that the kids had twenty minutes before we needed to leave for school and work. I jabbed the snow furiously, broke it up, chewed it, ground it, and finally made enough of a dent in the drift to get the van in and out of the garage.
Then I took the pitchfork back into the garage and hung it near the shovel, who pouted and dripped melted snow like tears on the garage floor.
Look, I’m sorry, shovel buddy. You just couldn’t get the job done, so I’ve moved on from our affair. Honestly, if you can’t go three rounds with me, I’m not sure I’m gonna call you my main man.
Now, that pitchfork over there? He’s got some potential…